Embodied Cognition and Social Consumption:
Self-Regulating Temperature through Social Products and Behaviors
Extant embodied cognition research suggests that individuals can reduce a perceived lack
of interpersonal warmth by substituting physical warmth, and vice versa. We suggest that this
behavior is self-regulatory in nature and that this self-regulation can be accomplished via
consumptive behavior. Experiment 1 found that consumers perceived ambient temperature to be
significantly lower when eating alone compared to eating with a partner. Experiment 2 found
that consuming a cool (vs. warm) drink led individuals to generate more socially-oriented
attributes for a hypothetical product. Experiment 3 found that physically cooler individuals
desired a social consumption setting, whereas physically warmer individuals desired a lone
consumption setting. We interpret these results within the context of self-regulation, such that
perceived physical temperature deviations from a steady state unconsciously motivate the
individual to find bodily balance in order to alleviate that deviation.
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 1
Embodied Cognition and Social Consumption:
Self-Regulating Temperature through Social Products and Behaviors
A recent surge of psychology research examines an essential link between physiological
experiences and social perceptions, behavior, and judgments (Williams & Bargh, 2008; Bargh &
Shalev, 2012; Fay & Maner, 2012; Steinmetz & Mussweiler, 2011; Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008;
Hong & Sun, 2012). These results are consistent with the emerging field of embodied cognition,
which argues that our metaphorical understanding of concepts are grounded in, and can be
influenced by, the physical experiences of our environment (Wilson, 2002; Barsalou, 1999;
Niedenthal et al., 2005; Williams, Huang, & Bargh, 2009). Much of the extant embodied
cognition literature in this domain focuses on the link between physical warmth or coldness and
its relation to social relationships. For instance, physical warmth positively influences social
perceptions, social trust, and social proximity (Ijzerman & Semin, 2009; Williams & Bargh,
2008), while feeling lonely (i.e., social exclusion) relates to perceptions of physical coldness or
desire for warm remedies (Ijzerman & Semin, 2010; Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008). That is,
experiencing physical warmth relates to interpersonal affection whereas experiencing physical
coldness relates to exclusion and self-centeredness (Williams & Bargh, 2008). In addition, this
link is bidirectional in nature (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008), in that physiological experiences
affect social affiliation as much as social experiences affect physiological reactions.
This bidirectional link between social affiliation and physiological warmth has been
argued from a variety of perspectives. One of the prevailing views is the conceptual metaphorical
perspective (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, 1999; Gibbs, 1994; Barsalou, 2008), which argues that
individuals jointly experience both abstract and physical concepts and subsequently conflate the
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 2
two. Coupled with findings from embodied cognition, when individuals experience physical
warmth, they feel closer to others, whereas when individuals feel cold, they feel psychologically
more distant. Indeed, we often refer to “warm” individuals as trusting and generous, whereas
“cold” individuals are competitive and untrustworthy (Fiske, Cuddy, & Glick, 2007; Williams &
Bargh, 2008). Statements such as “I’m giving you the icy stare” or “we are on thin ice” carry a
negative omen of hatred or breakage of friendship in an interpersonal context while “she is warm
and friendly” or “our relationship is heating up” represents a positive tone of attractiveness and
affection in the same context. Further, studies show differences in bodily temperature based on
people’s personalities and their social environment. When participants are with similar others,
they experience the ambient temperature to be higher (Ijzerman & Semin, 2010), while social
exclusion leads individuals to feel colder (Ijzerman et al. 2012; Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008).
This explains why people may feel greater “warmth” around their loved ones (e.g., families and
friends) and “coldness” around those they dislike.
Moreover, the link between physical and social warmth is supported by research in
biology and neuroscience. Social neuroscience research shows greater activation within the
participants’ left anterior insula during a social trust exercise after touching a cold pack,
identifying the insula as a neural substrate that mediates the link between temperature and social
trust (Kang et al., 2011). In another study, hand skin temperature decreased after participants
were confronted with personally threatening questions (Rimm-Kaufman & Kagan, 1996). That is,
when potential for interpersonal relations are compromised, people experience a drop in body
temperature. Taken together, the linguistic coupling of metaphors reflect people’s predisposition
to experience a physiological change in social situations (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008). This view
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 3
ultimately suggests that language and our higher order cognitions are grounded in human
behavior and physical contexts (Glenberg, 1997; Glenberg & Kaschak, 2002).
Embodied Cognition and Self-Regulation
Work exploring embodiment and conceptual metaphor theory within social psychology
and marketing has typically been descriptive, rather than explanatory (Meier et al., 2012).
Certainly, literature has focused on exploring the interesting effects related to embodied
psychology, but has yet to truly understand the mechanisms, boundary conditions, or mediators
underlying them. Despite all the evidence exploring embodied cognition, no major theory has yet
emerged to explain it (Smith & Semin, 2004; Neidenthal et al., 2005).
Some views in embodied psychology have argued that embodied manipulations activate
concepts and increase the accessibility of related ideas. For instance, holding a warm cup of
coffee influences individuals to rate others as having a ‘warmer’ personality (Williams & Bargh,
2008). Furthermore, inducing suspicion results in greater accessibility of fish-related words and
detection of fishy smells (Lee & Schwarz, 2012). However, other research is not easily
understood with such an explanation. Indeed, Lee and Schwarz (2012) have noted that physically
cleansing oneself (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006; Lee & Schwarz, 2010a) decreases one’s guilt but
being primed has no effect. Rather, that research appears to be better understood through a self-
Although the term self-regulation has come to refer to self-control for many social
psychology and marketing researchers (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994), we use self-
regulation to refer to corrective behavior that achieves physical or psychological balance. One
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 4
example of a self-regulatory embodied process comes from Kouchaki and colleagues (2013) who
showed that not only did wearing a heavy backpack intensify feelings of guilt (e.g., heavy burden
to bear), but individuals were more likely to choose a healthy snack and less likely to cheat,
ostensibly to self-regulate those feelings of guilt. Demonstrating the bi-directionality of this
effect, individuals can regulate emotions such as guilt or dissonance through embodied
metaphorical actions such as washing one’s hands (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006; Schnall, Benton,
& Harvey, 2008; Lee & Schwarz, 2010b) and show a greater desire for products that allow them
to do so (Lee & Schwarz, 2010a).
Other researchers argue that physical states can affect psychological processes such as
perception, in order to regulate one’s behavior towards optimal outcomes (Balcetis & Dunning,
2009; Bhalla & Proffitt, 1999). For example, Proffitt and colleagues (Bhalla & Proffitt, 1999;
Proffitt et al., 2003) demonstrate that when individuals are fatigued they will see hills as steeper
and distances as farther, whereas Balcetis and Dunning (2009) showed that objects such as a
water bottle are perceived as closer when they are more desirable (e.g., when people are thirstier).
More related to the current research, work with temperature demonstrates that individuals who
are induced to feel lonely seek to regulate these feelings of exclusion with a greater desire for
warm drinks and food (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008) or through behavior such as warm showers
and baths (Bargh & Shalev, 2012).
Furthermore, research has demonstrated that psychological embodied manipulations can
affect physiological experiences and vice versa. For example, being socially excluded results in
lower skin temperatures but holding a warm cup can alleviate this effect (Ijzerman et al., 2012).
Thus, if we have an innate tendency to maintain balance with respect to physiological changes
such as temperature, then metaphorical embodied manipulation of temperatures should result in
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 5
the same processes. Specifically, individuals can use physical objects to self-regulate
psychological deviations from a state of balance. Conversely, an individual might respond to a
physical imbalance by unconsciously behaving in ways that result in a psychological response
consistent with alleviating that imbalance. Physical objects used to self-regulate a psychological
imbalance should be related to some attribute of the source of the deviation. In many instances,
this manifests itself as desire for that physical object (Aarts, Custer, & Holland, 2007; Forster,
Liberman, & Friedman, 2007; Higgins, 1987). Hence, as psychological discrepancy increases, so
does the desire for a related object.
While some of these results are interpretable within a consumption context (e.g.,
mouthwash, water bottle), no research in this domain specifically investigates consumption
behaviors (context or product attributes) as a solution for this self-regulatory imbalance. Thus,
the current research expands our understanding of the self-regulatory power of consumer goods
(i.e., social products). Within the consumer domain, we argue that interpersonal warmth can be
represented by type of consumption experiences or product attributes. Specifically, consumption
experiences or product attributes that are social in nature might serve as a tool to substitute for
interpersonal warmth. Previous research (e.g., Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton, 1981; Belk,
1988; Rucker & Galinksy, 2008; Fournier, 1998; Solomon, 1983) suggests consumer products
attain social and interpersonal attributes. Recent research argues people use social products (i.e.,
interactive products) to fulfill their need for affiliation and belonging (Ridings & Gefen, 2004).
Thus, we extend these findings by examining the relationship between metaphorical and physical
warmth and social belonging in a variety of consumption contexts.
Three experiments examine the relationship between physical temperature, social
interaction, and consumption experiences. Specifically, we demonstrate that certain consumptive
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 6
behaviors (consumptive experiences and products whose attributes are interpersonal in nature)
serve as a self-regulatory mechanism. In experiment 1, we observe a social consumption setting
and link these to perceptions of ambient temperature. In experiment 2, we manipulate the
temperature of a consumed drink prior to assessing the desirability of interpersonal (i.e.,
facilitative of social interaction) product attributes. Experiment 3 manipulates ambient
temperature and measures the desirability for a two-person versus a single-person consumption
experience. Taken together, these results suggest that the relationship between metaphorical and
physical temperature manifests itself within the context of consumptive behaviors and product
attributes, and that, more importantly, both physical and metaphorical warmth act as a self-
regulatory mechanism via those consumptive behaviors and product attributes.
Experiment 1 (field study) observes whether a relationship exists between social
consumption setting and perception of atmospheric temperature. Specifically, we believe
individuals in a low social consumption setting (e.g., eating a meal alone) should perceive the
surrounding temperature as lower than the actual ambient temperature. On the other hand,
individuals in a high social consumption setting (e.g., eating a meal with another person) should
perceive the surrounding temperature as higher than the actual ambient temperature.
Experiment 1 was conducted at a food court during lunch time (12-3pm) in a large public
shopping mall (over 190 stores). 56 restaurant customers participated voluntarily in this field
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 7
study. The experimenters approached 28 individuals dining by themselves (low social
consumption condition) and 28 individuals dining with one other person (high social
consumption condition) and asked whether they would be willing to participate in a short study.
After receiving their consent, the experimenter asked the subjects to estimate the current building
temperature (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008). To give them a baseline, we informed participants that
the normal room temperature is 22°C. The actual room temperature was not given to the
participants but it was measured to be 21.5°C. To prevent hypothesis guessing, the participants
were informed that this information was requested by the mall maintenance staff. After providing
their answers, the individual was thanked for their time.
Participants in Experiment 1 estimated a range of atmospheric temperatures from 11°C to
27°C (M = 21.39°C, SD=2.92°C). The participant group as a whole was very accurate in their
assessment of the ambient temperature: there was no difference between the group estimate of
the ambient temperature and the actual (21.5°C: t(55) = -.28, p = .78) or the informed
temperature (22.0°C: t(55) = -1.56, p = .13). However, participants sitting alone (low social
consumption condition) gave lower estimates of room temperature than those who were eating
with another person (high social consumption condition) (M low = 20.21°C (SD=3.25) vs. M high=
22.57°C (SD=1.97); t(54) = 3.28, p < .01). Further, participants dining alone (low social
consumption setting) provided estimates lower than the actual room temperature (at 21.5°C)
(t(27)low= -2.10, p < .05), while people dining with another person gave higher estimates than the
actual room temperature (t(27)high = 2.87, p < .01). Thus, the results suggest a relationship
between social consumption setting and perceived atmospheric temperature.
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 8
Experiment 1 converges with previous research that demonstrates social interactions are
related with feelings of warmth. The results suggest that the social characteristics of a
consumption setting affect perceptions of ambient temperature. Specifically, eating a meal alone
(a low social consumption setting) led individuals to underestimate the actual ambient
temperature of the room, while eating a meal with another individual (a high social consumption
setting) led individuals to overestimate the actual ambient temperature in the room. Since pairs
of individuals eating together in the food court are most likely know each other, the current
research findings are analogous to Ijzerman and Semin (2010) who reported that those
surrounded by familiar others perceive ambient temperature to be warmer or that feeling socially
excluded leads to lower estimates of temperature (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008). Taken together,
the results of this field study establish a link between social situation (or proximity) and
perception of ambient temperature.
In experiment 2, we test whether manipulating temperature alters people’s desire for
social products. Drawing from our discussion of self-regulation, we predict that individuals who
are warm are less interested in social products, whereas those who are cool are more likely to
seek such interactions through their products. Physiological research has long known the threats
of overheating and the importance of cooling (Sutton, 1909; Caruso et al., 1992) and there is
reason to believe that individuals feel the need to find balance from feeling warm or cold. Here,
we extend this notion to show that people seek to self-regulate their physical temperature through
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 9
desire for social products. Hence, we predict people consuming a warm (cool) drink will
experience less (more) desire for social products.
A total of 54 undergraduate students (54% females) participated in exchange for course
credit. Upon arriving to the lab, we told them that they would be completing two mini-studies. In
part one, we asked students to evaluate a new type of tea. Students were randomly given a warm
or cool tea. To give individuals the time to drink the tea, we asked the participants to write their
thoughts and comments about the product (while drinking). This was also done to prevent any
hypotheses guessing. In part two, we provided individuals with a description of a new robot-
maid prototype that is being developed in Japan for the future. We showed them a picture of the
product and told them that the inventor is seeking to add more functions to increase the
capabilities of the robot prototype. We asked the participants to suggest as many ideas as they
could for new functionalities and features that would be suitable and desired by the participant
(should they purchase it). Participant responses were coded by two judges unaware of the
research hypotheses. The judges were instructed to rate thoughts/ideas that relate to interactive
functions as social (e.g., talking/interacting, walking buddy, sexual acts) and rate thoughts/ideas
that relate to non-interactive functions as non-social (e.g., vacuuming, cooking, alarm clock).
Overall, the two coders’ results were very consistent (r = .98) and any outstanding disagreements
were resolved through a discussion with the authors. As our dependent measure, a social thought
index was constructed by taking the difference between the number of non-social thoughts and
social thoughts, divided by the total number of thoughts. Zero indicates an equal number of two
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 10
types of thoughts, a positive number indicates more social thoughts, and a negative number
indicates more non-social thoughts.
Participants, on average, came up with a total of 5.54 (SD=2.17) ideas. In general,
participants came up with more non-social functions than social functions (M social = 2.50
(SD=1.21) vs. M non-social= 3.07 (SD=1.47); t(52) =2.64, p < .05). This was expected as it is easier
for participants to come up with non-social uses for a robot maid compared to interactive uses.
Consistent with our predictions, the participants consuming a cool beverage scored higher on the
social thought index than the participants consuming a warm beverage (M cool = .05 (SD=0.34)
vs. M warm= -.21 (SD=0.37); t(52) = 2.71, p < .01). That is, people consuming a cool beverage (vs.
warm) reported a higher ratio of social functions to non-social functions, ostensibly because they
longed for more social yearning through their robot-maid.
The results of experiment 2 provide evidence that social products serve as a proxy for
social interactions to regulate temperature. Furthermore, the results of experiment 2 support the
idea that those individuals who are warm become less interested in social interactions, whereas
those who are cool are more likely to seek such interactions.
In the case of experiment 2, individuals were manipulated to feel warm/cool and then
their desire for a social product was examined using a thought-listing task. Experiment 3 builds
on this by observing whether ambient temperature affects the actual desirability of different
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 11
types of consumption settings. Specifically, we manipulate two independent variables of interest:
the ambient temperature of the experimental room (cool versus warm), and whether the social
consumption setting (a movie theater package) was to be consumed alone (low social
consumption setting) or was to be consumed with another individual (high social consumption
setting). The dependent variable was the overall desirability of the social consumption setting. If
temperature and the social consumption are inherently linked, we suspect that the environment
(warm or cool room) moderates consumers’ level of desire for social consumption activities. We
predict people in a warm (cool) room will experience less (more) desire for social consumption.
Ninety-four undergraduate students (50% females) participated in this experiment as part
of a larger study. The study was a 2 (room temperature: warm / cool) x 2 (social consumption:
low / high) between-subjects design. To manipulate room temperature, we modified the room
temperature prior to students coming into the lab. We also asked the students to take off their
jackets, thereby ensuring that temperature perceptions would not be attenuated by participants’
attire (Steinmetz & Mussweiler, 2011). Similar to the temperature ranges used in previous
research (Ijzerman & Semin, 2009), the cool condition retained a room temperature of
approximately 17-18 °C and the warm condition retained a room temperature of 26-27°C. To
manipulate social consumption, we asked to them evaluate the attractiveness of a new Groupon
movie-package deal. In the low social consumption condition, the participants saw a deal that
included the price of admission, small popcorn and small drink, and reserved seating priced at
$15 (limit of 1 purchase per person). In the high social consumption condition, the participants
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 12
saw a deal that included two admission tickets, two small popcorn and drinks, and reserved
seating priced at $30 (limit of 1 purchase per person). We then asked the participants to evaluate
the desirability of the deal (1- not desirable; 7 – very desirable).
ANOVA analysis revealed an interaction effect of temperature and social consumption
F(1,93) = 12.33, p < .01, ω2= .10). Simple main effects revealed that people in the cool room
evaluated the coupon-for-two deal (high social consumption) higher than the coupon-for-one
deal (low social consumption) (M high = 6.09 (SD=0.95) vs. M low= 5.29 (SD=1.16); F(1,93)=
6.24, p < .05, ω2= .04). In addition, simple main effects also revealed that people in the warm
room evaluated the coupon-for-one deal higher than the coupon-for-two deal (M high = 5.08
(SD=1.38) vs. M low= 5.87 (SD=0.78); F(1,93)= 6.09, p < .05, ω2= .04). See figure 2 for a
graphical representation of the results.
Insert Figure 1 Here
Overall, the results of experiment 3 provide additional evidence that consumptive
behaviors can be used by individuals to self-regulate temperature in both warm and cool
situations. Specifically, we found that individuals who felt cool desired a consumption
experience that included others, whereas those who were warm desired a lone consumption
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 13
Past marketing studies related to temperature primarily focus on retailers’ “servicescape”,
specifically on how temperature affects ambient experiences (Booms & Bitner, 1992; Hoffman
& Turley, 2002). For example, retailers avoid setting very high or very low temperature to
discourage avoidance behavior (Baker, 1987) and consumers perceive temperature in “on-the-
ground” department stores as more stable than underground department stores (Chun & Tamura,
1998). While these studies reveal the important role of temperature in consumption experiences,
researchers lack the understanding of how temperature relates to social consumption contexts
(i.e., consuming alone vs. consuming with others) or with social products (e.g., interactive
features such as Siri in iPhones).
In three experiments, we provide support for the self-regulatory power of social
consumption and products. In experiment 1, we first established the link between social
consumption and temperature such that individuals sitting alone perceived the ambient
temperature to be significantly lowered (cooler) than individuals who were sitting with another
individual. This supports and confirms extant literature in the field of embodied cognition.
Experiment 2 revealed that being cool (vs. warm) increased an individual’s desire for social
features in a hypothetical product. These findings parallel the notion that physical experiences
such as temperature influence social information processing (Steinmetz & Mussweiler, 2011).
However, it counters recent beliefs that warmth activates social affiliative motivations (Fay &
Maner, 2012). Instead, people given a cool (vs. warm) drink prefer social affiliation to achieve
bodily balance, potentially explaining why explains why people given a cool (vs. warm) drink
generated more social-related thoughts for their robot-maid in experiment 2. While it is possible
that people in cool (warm) states may feel isolated (connected) from others and make judgments
that are socially cool (warm) (Delgado, Frank, & Phelps, 2005; Ijzerman & Semin, 2009), it
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 14
doesn’t preclude them seeking or desiring warmth (coolness). Hence, it is still possible that
individuals still feel closer to others when experiencing warmth, but develop a preference and
desire for remedies that balance their physiological system.
Experiment 3 suggests individuals attempt to self-regulate when they are exposed to
either a warm or cool physical setting. When placed in a cool room, participants desired an
entertainment package that was socially inclusive, while those placed in a warm room desired the
entertainment package that was socially exclusive. While previous studies suggest that physical
warmth may act as a substitute for people’s desire for affiliation or promote pro-social behavior
(Bargh & Shalev, 2012; Ijzerman et al., 2012), our findings are more aligned with the notion that
people desire remedies to counterbalance their current state (i.e., self-regulation). For example,
physical coldness can cause a feeling of loneliness (Bargh & Shalev, 2012), which in turn creates
desire for social remedies (i.e., coupon-for-two). Together, our findings confirm and are
consistent with theories that social experiences are not independent of physiological experiences,
and that they are very much relevant to consumption contexts. More importantly, we show
temperature influences consumers’ desire for social consumption (E3) and social products (E2).
It should be noted that the effects outlined here are opposite to what one would expect
given a more straightforward, less motivational conceptual priming account. A key feature of
semantic priming is that it increases the accessibility of related constructs (Neely, 1977; Förster
& Liberman, 2007; for a meta-analysis, see DeCoster & Claypool, 2004). For example, if an
individual has to form a possible sentence from items such as “leg break arm his” they will be
more likely to view ambiguous targets as more hostile whereas priming "the hug boy kiss” will
encourage more kind ratings (Srull & Wyer, 1979). Indeed, previous research demonstrates that
the direction flows towards the prime with only unambiguous and extreme exemplars resulting in
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 15
a contrast effect (Herr, Sherman & Fazio, 1983). Subsequently, if the manipulations presented
here were merely activating a semantic prime, one would expect that ‘warm’ manipulations
would activate ‘warm’ associations. However, the results here were the exact opposite.
Individuals induced to feel either physically or socially warm preferred and activated
physically/socially cool desires, while those that felt physically or socially cool preferred warmth.
In addition, these results differ from what would expect from a goal-related prime.
Indeed, research has demonstrated that goal primes activate desired end-states (Sela & Shiv,
2009; Forster, Liberman & Friedman, 2007). For example, work disentangling the often
confounded question of when a prime activates a goal and when it activates a trait showed that
goal directed primes are a function of discrepancies between the prime and the self (Sela & Shiv,
2009). For instance, past research has shown priming achievement made individuals more
competitive (Bargh et al., 2001), priming helpfulness increased participants helpful behavior
(Macrae & Johnston, 1998), and priming conformity increased group consensus (Epley &
Gilovich, 1999). Once again, if our manipulations had activated a traditional goal prime, we
would have expected that those who felt physically/socially warm (cool) to have a greater desire
for warm (cool) products or environments. However, we found the opposite.
Finally, one may wonder whether these results are simply explained with an
intraconceptual embodied simulation explanation as opposed to with a conceptual metaphor
framework (Landau, Meier & Keefer, 2010). As Landau and colleagues (2010) state, temperature
related sensations, such as hugs, are typically related to friendliness. As such, the effects of
temperature at the food court could be understood from an embodied context. However, drink
temperature or social products are unlikely to be regularly associated with friendliness or
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 16
temperature. Hence, our results suggest a metaphoric overlap between social/physical warmth
(concrete concept) and the abstract concept of social/physical warmth.
Overall, we contribute to the literature by demonstrating the link between physiological
experiences and people’s desire for social interaction through self-regulation. Instead of warmth
promoting interpersonal affection and coolness promoting isolation, we find that people seek to
achieve balance (e.g., desiring interactive products when cool and isolation when warm). This
suggests that when one feels cool, people develop increased social affiliative motives; when one
feels warm, people seek relatively more social isolation. More importantly, we extend this
framework into consumption scenarios and development of social products, providing
managerial implications for marketers.
The current findings may benefit marketers in multiple ways. First, it is important for
marketers to control environmental settings (e.g., room temperature) to initiate relational
behavior. For example, it is often considered that live speed dating sites should operate in a
“warm and cozy environment” to increase interpersonal affection for potential candidates. In
contrast, we suggest that cooler rooms may encourage individuals to desire social remedies, such
as developing interpersonal relations, in order to self-regulate from being cool. This research is
also relevant to marketers seeking to develop social products. For instance, retail stores trying to
sell social products (i.e., interactive toys) may encourage individuals to seek out social products
by keeping their stores cooler.
Previous research (e.g., Spangenberg, Crowley, & Henderson, 1996) suggests strongly
that cues in the shopping environment can positively (or potentially detrimentally) affect product
perceptions. Given that ambient temperature may have an effect on perceptions of social
consumption (Ijzerman & Semin, 2010) and signals for social proximity (Fay & Maner, 2012),
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 17
future research should delve into understanding more about how temperature (such as store
temperature) affect one’s desire to socially interact with products and with others For example,
while our research focused more on products, perhaps these results can be extended to service
environments where interaction between the customer and the company representatives (i.e.,
salespeople) is highly encouraged. For example, would hair salons that encourage interactions
with their customers be better off by keeping their ambient temperature cooler? Future research
should extend our findings into service environments where company-customer interactions are
paramount. Moreover, being warm vs. boiling (cool vs. freezing) could be psychologically
different for consumers. For instance, while warmth elicits feelings of comfort, hot may elicit
feelings of anger or passion. Therefore, future research should also consider how different
degrees of temperature may replicate or yield separate results from the ones we have shown in
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 18
Aarts, H., Custers, R., & Holland, R. W. (2007). The nonconscious cessation of goal pursuit:
when goals and negative affect are coactivated. Journal of personality and social
psychology, 92(2), 165.
Balcetis, E., & Dunning, D. (2010). Wishful Seeing More Desired Objects Are Seen as Closer.
Psychological Science, 21(1), 147-152.
Bargh, J. A., Lee-Chai, A., Barndollar, K., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Trötschel, R. (2001). The
automated will: Nonconscious activation and pursuit of behavioral goals. Journal of
personality and social psychology, 81(6), 1014.
Bargh, J. A., & Shalev, I. (2012).The substitutability of physical and social warmth in daily life.
Emotion, 12(1), 154.
Barsalou, L. W. (1999). Perceptual symbol systems. Behavioral and brain sciences, 22(04), 577-
Barsalou, L. W. (2008). Grounded cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 617-645.
Baumeister, R. F., Heatherton, T. F., & Tice, D. M. (1994). Losing control: Academic Press San
Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2),
Bhalla, M., & Proffitt, D. R. (1999).Visual--Motor Recalibration in Geographical Slant
Perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception and Performance, 25,
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 19
Caruso, C. C., Hadley, B.J. Shukla, R., Frame, P., Khoury, J. (1992). Cooling effects and
comfort of four cooling blanket temperatures in humans with fever. Nursing
research, 41(2), 68-72.
Chun, C. Y., & Tamura, A. (1998). Thermal environment and human responses in underground
shopping malls vs department stores in Japan. Building and environment, 33(2), 151-158.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Halton, E. (1981).The meaning of things: Domestic symbols and the
self: Cambridge University Press.
DeCoster, J., & Claypool, H. M. (2004). A meta-analysis of priming effects on impression
formation supporting a general model of informational biases. Personality and social
psychology review, 8(1), 2-27.
Delgado, M. R., Frank, R. H., & Phelps, E. A. (2005). Perceptions of moral character modulate
the neural systems of reward during the trust game. Nature neuroscience, 8(11), 1611-
Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (1999).Just going along: Nonconscious priming and conformity to
social pressure. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35(6), 578-589.
Fay, A. J., & Maner, J. K. (2012). Warmth, spatial proximity, and social attachment: The
embodied perception of a social metaphor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J., & Glick, P. (2007). Universal dimensions of social cognition: Warmth
and competence. Trends in cognitive sciences, 11(2), 77-83.
Förster, J., Liberman, N., & Friedman, R. S. (2007). Seven principles of goal activation: A
systematic approach to distinguishing goal priming from priming of non-goal constructs.
Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11(3), 211-233.
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 20
Gibbs, R. W. Jr. (1994).The poetics of mind: Figurative thought, language, and understanding:
Cambridge University Press.
Glenberg, A. M. (1997). What memory is for: Creating meaning in the service of action.
Behavioral and brain sciences, 20(01), 41-50.
Glenberg, A. M., & Kaschak, M. P. (2002). Grounding language in action. Psychonomic bulletin
& review, 9(3), 558-565.
Herr, P. M., Sherman, S. J., & Fazio, R. H. (1983). On the consequences of priming:
Assimilation and contrast effects. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 19(4),
Higgins, E. T. (1987). Self-discrepancy: a theory relating self and affect. Psychological review,
Hoffman, K. D., & Turley, L. W. (2002). Atmospherics, service encounters and consumer
decision making: an integrative perspective. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice,
Hong, J., & Sun, Y. (2012). Warm It Up with Love: The Effect of Physical Coldness on Liking
of Romance Movies. The Journal of Consumer Research, 39(2), 293-306.
IJzerman, H., Gallucci, M., Pouw, W. T., Weiβgerber, S. C., Van Doesum, N. J., & Williams, K.
D. (2012). Cold-blooded loneliness: Social exclusion leads to lower skin temperatures.
Actapsychologica, 140(3), 283-288.
IJzerman, H., & Semin, G. R. (2009). The Thermometer of Social Relations Mapping Social
Proximity on Temperature. Psychological Science, 20(10), 1214-1220.
IJzerman, H., & Semin, G. R. (2010). Temperature perceptions as a ground for social proximity.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(6), 867-873.
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 21
Kang, Y., Williams, L. E., Clark, M. S., Gray, J. R., & Bargh, J. A. (2011). Physical temperature
effects on trust behavior: the role of insula. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,
Kouchaki, M., Gino, F., & Jami, A. (2013). The Burden of Guilt: Heavy Backpacks, Light
Snacks, and Enhanced Morality.
Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980).Metaphors we live by (Vol. 111): Chicago London.
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1999), Philosophy in the Flesh. The Embodied Mind and Its
Challenge to Western Thought: New York: Basic Books.
Landau, M. J., Meier, B. P., & Keefer, L. A. (2010).A metaphor-enriched social cognition.
Psychological bulletin, 136(6), 1045.
Lee, S. W., & Schwarz, N. (2010a). Dirty hands and dirty mouths embodiment of the moral-
purity metaphor is specific to the motor modality involved in moral transgression.
Psychological Science, 21(10), 1423-1425.
Lee, S. W., & Schwarz, N. (2010b). Washing away postdecisional dissonance.
Science, 328(5979), 709-709.
Lee, S. W., & Schwarz, N. (2012). Bidirectionality, Mediation, and Moderation of Metaphorical
Effects: The Embodiment of Social Suspicion and Fishy Smells, Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 103 (5), 737-749.
Meier, B. P., Schnall, S., Schwarz, N., & Bargh, J. A. (2012). Embodiment in social
psychology. Topics in cognitive science, 4(4), 705-716.
Macrae, C. N., & Johnston, L. (1998). Help, I need somebody: Automatic action and inaction.
Social Cognition, 16(4), 400-417.
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 22
Neely, J. H. (1977). Semantic priming and retrieval from lexical memory: Roles of inhibitionless
spreading activation and limited-capacity attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology:
General, 106(3), 226-254.
Neidenthal, P. M., Barsalou, L. W., Winkielman, P., Krauth-Gruber, S., & Ric, F. (2005).
Embodiment in attitudes, social perception, and emotion. Personality and Social
Psychology Review, 9(3), 184-211.
Proffitt, D. R., Stefanucci, J., Banton, T., & Epstein, W. (2003).The role of effort in perceiving
distance. Psychological Science, 14(2), 106-112.
Ridings, C. M., & Gefen, D. (2004). Virtual community attraction: Why people hang out
online. Journal of Computer
Mediated Communication, 10(1).
Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Kagan, J. (1996).The psychological significance of changes in skin
temperature. Motivation and Emotion, 20(1), 63-78.
Rucker, D. D., & Galinsky, A. D. (2008). Desire to acquire: Powerlessness and compensatory
consumption. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(2), 257-267.
Smith, E. R., & Semin, G. R. (2004). Socially situated cognition: Cognition in its social
context. Advances in experimental social psychology, 36, 53-117.
Sutton, H. (1909). The influence of high temperatures on the human body, especially with regard
to heat!stroke. The Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, 13(1), 62-73.
Schnall, S., Benton, J., & Harvey, S. (2008). With a clean conscience cleanliness reduces the
severity of moral judgments. Psychological science, 19(12), 1219-1222.
Sela, A., & Shiv, B. (2009). Unraveling priming: When does the same prime activate a goal
versus a trait? Journal of Consumer Research, 36(3), 418-433.
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 23
Solomon, M. R. (1983). The role of products as social stimuli: A symbolic interactionism
perspective. Journal of Consumer research, 319-329.
Spangenberg, E. R., Crowley, A. E., & Henderson, P. W. (1996). Improving the store
environment: do olfactory cues affect evaluations and behaviors? The Journal of
Srull, T. K., & Wyer R. S. Jr. (2005). The role of category accessibility in the interpretation of
information about persons: Some determinants and implications. Social Cognition: Key
Steinmetz, J., & Mussweiler, T. (2011).Breaking the ice: How physical warmth shapes social
comparison consequences. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(5), 1025-1028.
Williams, L. E., & Bargh, J. A. (2008). Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal
warmth. Science, 322(5901), 606-607.
Williams, L. E., Huang, J. Y., & Bargh, J. A. (2009). The scaffolded mind: Higher mental
processes are grounded in early experience of the physical world. European Journal of
Social Psychology, 39(7), 1257-1267.
Wilson, M. (2002). Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 9(4), 625-
Zhong, C.B., & Leonardelli, G. J. (2008). Cold and Lonely Does Social Exclusion Literally Feel
Cold? Psychological Science, 19(9), 838-842.
Zhong, C.B., & Liljenquist, K. (2006). Washing away your sins: Threatened morality and
physical cleansing. Science, 313(5792), 1451-1452.